HomeRegional NewsAfricaCOP26 is a make or break deal for modernising Africa

COP26 is a make or break deal for modernising Africa

This year it is all going down at the 26th edition of the Conference of the People (COP26). Make or break deals will be made, and African countries must push their collective presence to the front of the queue.

Noting that the COP failed miserably to mobilise $100 billion by 2020, at COP26, I want to see Africa’s demands taking centre stage – yes, demands, not requests.

Why is it essential that we stand our ground? Because taking action on climate change can deliver economic value. The continent must not miss the opportunities!  

The monetary value is real. According to research from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times, bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in global economic benefits in the next decade.

Further, it could generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs by 2030 and generate an estimated $2.8 trillion in government revenues in 2030 through subsidy reform and carbon pricing alone. With our young population desperate for employment, much is at stake if Africa misses out once again.

The Commission’s research paper states the challenge now is to accelerate the transition to a better, more inclusive, new climate economy in five critical economic systems: energy, cities, food and land use, water, and industry.

ESI Africa covers these five areas, and we notice an increase in solutions specific to African challenges.

However, continued dependence on fossil fuels, from wood-burning stoves to coal-fired power plants, threatens any advancements—currently, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, Niger, and Tanzania host active coal plant developments.

The view on climate finance at COP26

Coal-fired power is, after all, a quick, affordable route to providing more of the population with stable power. Considering the world’s 20 least-electrified countries by the percentage of the population without electricity are all in sub-Saharan Africa – why should they not resort to new fossil fuel plants?

A further enticement is that international finance continues to support coal plant development. Clearly, between COP so-called financial support and the global finance market, something is not adding up.

A recent research paper by Climate Policy Initiative and SEforALL, The Coal Power Finance in High-Impact Countries, explains a bit more on this. The report shows that commercial financial institutions worldwide continue to indirectly support coal power plant development, despite implementing policies to exclude direct financing of new coal-fired generation assets.

The paper, which forms part of the Energising Finance series, claims that from 2016 to 2020, the 38 banks that exclude direct finance for coal-fired power plants have provided over $52 billion in finance to companies engaged in coal projects.

Making finance accessible to invest in fossil fuels to deliver much-needed electrification is a good deal. COP26 representatives from developed nations should replicate such an offer.

Nonetheless, African countries do have individual NDCs and an invaluable role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Many have turned attention to the adoption of renewable energies, energy efficiency regulation and climate financing.

The race now for Africa is to get to the front of the COP26 stage and have our collective voice heard. We want solutions to climate change that meet our needs affordably.

Cutting emissions is not simply switching off fossil fuel energy resources and turning cleaner technologies online. The path includes limiting our risk to climate change and implementing a determined transition to reach the finish line in record time.

Until next week.
Editor, ESI Africa 

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.